By Rahul Lal
“Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan, the personalities, have become so large that not only do they replace our ability to view the results off the product they put on the field; they have actually changed our ability to look at their father and see simply what he has accomplished as his life’s work,” said Jason Fitz in response to legendary defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan’s passing.
Fitz, the host of The Jason Fitz Show on CBS Radio’s Play.it podcast network, talked about the legacy of Buddy Ryan and how it has been affected by his sons who are known for their very public personalities.
“Rex is a great guy, the type of guy you just want to be around. Rex Ryan is the kind of guy that just brings this energy — a lot like his dad… look at their fire,” said Fitz. “In this new social media age, it’s the personification of that fire that tarnishes the entire Ryan family.”
A comparison can be made to reality television’s most famous family, the Kardashians, because of their constant domination of the headlines.
“In the entire football community, there is no more Kardashian-like situation than the Ryan family,” exclaimed Fitz. “The shame of it is that the entire legacy becomes tarnished at some point because of the caricature his kids have become.”
“It’s easy, as time fades, to forget the impact of Buddy Ryan and his 46 defense. Mike Singletary, who we all know as a Hall of Famer, as a legendary player on the field, [someone] who personified that entire era of football comes out and says ‘without Buddy Ryan, I’m just a guy.'”
Ryan was the architect of the revolutionary 46 defense, used by the 1985 and 1986 Chicago Bears, often considered the greatest defense of all time.
“Every single snap you watch on defense has somehow been influenced by Buddy Ryan.” Fitz added that Ryan should be “remembered for being Buddy Ryan — a master defensive coordinator, a master motivator and an all-around general badass, not Buddy Ryan, the dad of Rob and Rex.”
The sports world lost another iconic coach recently: Pat Summit.
A lot of people who never followed women’s college basketball wondered why Summit was such an inspirational and historical figure.
“It’s not about the 100 percent graduation rate, which is stunning, it’s not about the fact that she single-handedly has made women’s basketball relevant… it could be, but it’s not,” Fitz said. “The stunning thing about Pat Summit is the legacy she left in the community.”
Summit coached for 38 years and had every single athlete on her team graduate, something that is almost impossible these days nationwide across college athletics. Aside from that, she is considered among the most influential figures in women’s history, having been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“[She was] somebody that influenced lives, that touched people, that gave people a sort of sense of what it’s like to demand perfection,” concluded Fitz.
To listen to the full show which includes more on these two legends as well as Florida State University awarding mediocrity, check out the latest episode of The Jason Fitz Show.
Rahul Lal is an LA native stuck in a lifelong, love-hate relationship with the Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter here.